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US: Why people use plants that support pollinating bugs and birds

A collaborative study out of the University of Georgia and the University of Florida reveals the many reasons why people choose to include “pollinator-friendly” plant life around their homes, in their gardens, and for the purposes of landscaping improvements, and, perhaps more illuminating, why others avoid them.

Benjamin Campbell, Hayk Khachatryan, and Alicia Rihn have amassed a substantive amount of data that they discuss in their article “Pollinator-friendly Plants: Reasons for and Barriers to Purchase” found in the current HortTechnology magazine published by the American Society for Horticultural Science.

The study illuminates information from a consumer survey that focused on those who have purchased plants that are proven to be beneficial and attractive to pollinating bees, butterflies, bats, and hummingbirds.

Campbell suggested, “I think we often think of pollinator friendly plants as bee and butterfly attractants, but there are consumers that want to attract other types of pollinators so ensuring we meet their needs is essential.”

The researchers discovered an array of motivations encouraging consumers to choose these specific plants. But among consumers with home landscapes, only 46% elected pollinator friendly plants to be included in their purchases. Within that group, only 17% stated that attracting pollinators was their driving desire. The grand majority of these consumers decided on their purchases because of the look of the plants they wished included in their personal landscapes.

The factors preventing or discouraging more than half of consumers from including plants beneficial to pollinators seem obvious and easy to address, and this is important. Pollinators contribute substantially to the global economy and food availability, and without them, roughly 70% of our food crops would be in jeopardy of failing to meet world consumption needs.

Campbell, Khachatryan, and Rihn point out the recent worldwide concern regarding pollinator population decline due to pesticides, parasites, and urbanization and the alarming impact it could have on human sustainability.

Inadequate labeling is responsible for 28% of the surveyed consumers choosing plants outside the pollinator-friendly category. Many within the field of landscape marketing agree that better identification would easily encourage purchasers to select plants helpful the birds and insect that benefit our own food crops.

Another major barrier to a greater distribution of pollinator-friendly plants is price. Price was considered a barrier to purchasing pollinator-friendly plants by 28% of the consumers surveyed.

Campbell adds, “Many of the barriers to purchasing more pollinator friendly plants can be addressed by green industry firms taking the time to address the barrier. For instance, adding new and different pollinator friendly plants would remove a barrier for 20% of consumers while labeling and making sure to take care of the plants available would also mitigate barriers for a large number of consumers.”

Source: ASHS

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